OH, YOU’VE GOT GRAY EYES
Welcome to the working year…
Okay, now it can be told. I went to China for a few days. You know me. International Man of Misery. Just hopped off to Asia on a lark. No serious. I did. I had some Christmas cash, and my friend Rebecca has been attending university there and has been asking me to come—I had motive and opportunity and just went. I didn’t publicize it beforehand because I get all paranoid about saying I am actually leaving the country. Like angry comics hooligans whose dreams I have shattered will come and kick in my windows and Sadie will have to defend the homestead. (She’ll win, mind you. I am the only champion who can best her.)
’s funny because people flipped out when they heard I was going and would only be there for three days. So much for spontaneity. Truth be told, the experience was pretty overwhelming, and I always feel that vacations are both too short and too long. This length seemed to work out okay. We saw a lot, but there is also a lot to see. Rebecca has been there four months and she says she still hasn’t seen it all. And obviously, yeah, not the whole country—we’re just talking Beijing. It’s massive. Yet, it may also be the only city in the world where, no matter where you are, you can hail a cab in under a minute. Every time.
We did some touristy things, like go to some Palaces (both Forbidden and Summer), and just took our time looking around the city. You learn pretty quick to adjust to the masses of people, and also to blow off anyone you don’t know coming up to you and saying in English, “It’s so nice to meet you.” While they could just be students looking to practice their language skills, it’s also often a scam. You’ll have a conversation and end up at a point where you discover they have an ulterior motive to talk to you. The common one seemed to be the art gallery they were preparing for a show in America, and they so wanted American opinions—which is all flattery to try to get you to buy art. One guy tried two poor techniques—first by assuming that we were Swedish because we were supposedly blonde, and then when Rebecca waved him off, grabbing my arm and saying, “You going to let the woman decide for you?” Yeah, dude, she’s got the money.
It was interesting seeing a bit of a New Year’s celebration in another country. It’s certainly not the drunken amateur night that we experience here. We actually ended up in a private room with some Uygher students at a Muslin restaurant. The Uygher are a people who live in Eastern Turkestan. They have splendid food, even if what we had was a Chinese approximation of it (sort of like how our Chinese food is an American approximation of Chinese food – you’ve never had Kung Pao chicken like the Kung Pao chicken I had over there). There was spicy lamb and potatoes, roasted dates, an amazing apple salad, soup – just a feast. They showed us some traditional dances, and generally kept us entertained. It’s a bit awkward to be in a room where you can only understand one of the three languages being used—and probably the one used the least. But I enjoyed myself immensely. (For more about the Uyghers, start here: http://www.uyghurinfo.com/.)
Oddly, I was in a plane and on my way back home before anyone in the states had entered 2003. Actually, even more oddly if you think about it, I left China at 9:30 in the morning on January 1st, and arrived at 10:30 in the morning on the same day. It was like I was in the sky for one really, really long hour. I did, though, nearly fill up my travel journal, which I started on my trip to England last Spring.
Overall, the Chinese experience was quite a whirlwind. In some ways, it seemed like a flurry of illegal DVDs and CDs, but really, what it ended up being was just one giant crowd that I got to wander through and observe. Beijing is a city of people unlike any other. It makes New York look like a rural hamlet. I enjoyed its sites, its food, and even got to see a wonderful acrobat show—and all with one of my best friends. Spontaneity worked out.
Of course, now I am a little jet lagged and a little behind. I need to get on Clamp School Detectives. I need to start rolling on some Oni work. I need to do my new editorial for the Oni site and update my site.
Soon. Just a little more sleep.